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A P H 0 R I S M S
Α Ν D
M A XI MS, &c.
HE first step a man makes in the world
From the first measures he takes, men of experience will tell you, whether he will succeed or no; it is therefore highly important to take this step with a great deal of caution, and to signalize his entry by something glorious and great.
2. There are but two things that can reasonably deserve the Care of a Wise man; the first is the Study of Virtue which makes him honest; the second the use of Life, which makes him content.
3. Every man has something good in his composition, which may be much improved by cultivation and diligence; the generality of men force their genius, and lose the race by endeavouring to run beyond the post. 4. A certain term is required to bring great designs to ma
turity; those that can stay so long, are commonly paid with interest for their Patience. Precipitation often ruins the best laid designs, whereas Patience ripens the most difficult.
5. We want as much Moderation not to be corrupted with our good fortune; as Patience not to be dejected with
6. A wise Retreat is no less glorious than a courageous Attack; and it is the character of a consummate merit to be able to live in a retreat with honour, after one has lived in publick with splendor.
7. Rambling wits ought to be indulged, because, by their conjectures on all subjects, they have in every age farther enrich'd the world, than solider understandings : Plurality of parts, without order, has a more strong operation, because it has a seeming infinity, and so hinders comprehension.
8. The best way for a man to preserve his Reputation, is still to bring something new and surprising upon the stage, to provide fresh matter for the general admiration. A wise man should not suffer the depth of his capacity to be founded, if he would always keep up his character ; but should behave himself so, as never to discover all he knows, that no man may be able to aflign limits to his knowledge ; for let a man be ever so learned, the idea we have of him, when we know him but by halves, is much greater than that we shall have of him, when we are thoroughly acquainted with him. 9. Clearness is the rule of speaking, as fincerity is the rule of thinking. Too bright fallies of Wit, like flashes of lightning, rather dazzle than illuminate.
10. To a man of virtue and resolution all things are alike; he values not the changes of fortune, any more than he does the changes of the moon.
11. Lessons and precepts ought to be gilt and sweetned, as we do pills and potions, so as to take off the disgust of the remedy; for it holds both in virtue and in health, that we love to be instructed, as well as physick'd with pleasure.
12. Nothing makes a deeper impression upon the minds of children, or comes more lively to their understanding, than those instructive notices, that are convey'd to them by glances, insinuations and surprize, and under the cover of some allegory and riddle: Naked lessons and
precepts have nothing the force that images and parables have upon our minds and affections. Besides, that the
ftudy to unriddle a mystery, furnishes the memory with more tokens to remember it by.
13. Nature is sometimes so perverse, that all the governors in the universe shall never make this youth a compleat gentleman; others again are of so ductile a disposition, that they learn every perfection without a master ; and these are without doubt the most accomplish'd persons. 14.
The foundations of knowledge and virtue are laid in our childhood, and without an early care and attention, we are as good as lost in our very cradles ; for the principles that we imbibe in our youth, we carry commonly to our graves, and it is the education that makes the man. To speak all in a few words, children are but blank paper, ready indifferently for any impression, good or bad, B 2
(for they take all upon credit) and it is much in the power of the first comer to write faint or devil upon it, which of the two he pleases ; so that one step out of the way in the Institution, is enough to poison the peace and the reputation of a whole life.
15. Good Example is an unspeakable benefit to mankind, and has a secret power and influence upon those with whom we converse, to form them into the same disposition and manners; it is a living rule, that teaches men without trouble, and lets them see their faults without open reproof and upbraiding. Besides, that it adds great weight to a man's counsel, when we see that he advises nothing but what he does, nor exacts any thing from others, froin which he himself desires to be excused. As, on the contrary, nothing is more cold and insignificant from a bad man, one that does not obey his own precepts, nor follow the advice which he is so forward to give to others.
16. Nothing is of so much moment to a Prince as Reputation, and none more than that of being a religious observer of his word and promise; but especially of his Oaths, without which he could never be trusted by his Subjects or neighbours.
17. No condition of human life is ever perfectly secure, nor any force of greatness, or of prudence, beyond the reach of envy, and the blows of fortune. Princes, as well as private men, are often in most danger, at those times, and in those parts, they think themselves fafest; as strong towers are sometimes taken on those fides that are thought impregnable, and so left undefended, or little regarded.
18. A Prince
18. A Prince may be familiar with his Subjects, without derogating from his majesty, but not supercilious without danger.
19. The infelicities of fome Princes may be occasioned only by ill timing their counsels, when to attempt and when to defift, in the justest endeavours; and the greatness of others may be preserved by unforeseen accidents, where the greatest reach of foresight and conduct might have failed.
20. When a Prince fails in point of honour and common justice, it is enough to stagger his people in their faith and allegiance.
21. Example works a great deal more than Precept; for words without practice, are but counsels without effect. When we do as we say, 'tis a confirmation of the rule : But when our lives and doctrines do not agree, it looks as if the lesson were either too hard for us, or the advice not worth the while to follow. We should see to mend our own manners, before we meddle to reform our neighbours; and not condemn others for what we do ourselves.
22. The words and actions of our Superiors have the authority and force of a Recommendation : So that it is morally impossible to have a sober people under a mad government. For where lewdness is the way to preferment, men are wicked by interest, as well as by inclination.
23. Nothing is of so infectious and pestilent a nature as example ; and no man does an exceeding good, or very ill thing, but it produces others of the same kind. We imitate the good out of emulation, and the bad out of our natural corruption and malignity; which being confin'd